Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House without amendment (07/25/2006)

(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary has been expanded because action occurred on the measure.)

21st Century Emergency Communications Act of 2006 - (Sec. 2) Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) an Office of Emergency Communications, to be headed by the Assistant Secretary for Emergency Communications.

Includes among the Assistant Secretary's responsibilities: (1) assisting the Secretary of DHS in developing and implementing the program to enhance public safety interoperable communications at all levels of government; (2) administering DHS authorities for the SAFECOM Program, the Integrated Wireless Network program, and the Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program; (3) coordinating administration of the National Communications System; (4) facilitating creation of Regional Emergency Communications Coordination Working Groups; (5) establishing requirements for total and nonproprietary interoperable emergency communications capabilities for all public safety radio and data communications systems and equipment purchased using DHS assistance; and (6) coordinating with the Director of the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility.

Directs the Secretary, through the Assistant Secretary, to: (1) assess the range of emergency communications capabilities needed, the current capabilities, and the gap between the two; (2) develop a National Emergency Communications Report to provide recommendations regarding how the United States can accelerate the deployment of interoperable emergency communications nationwide; (3) report annually on the degree to which such communications have been achieved and on the feasibility of developing a mobile communications capability; and (4) ensure that grant guidelines for the use of DHS assistance relating to interoperable emergency communications are coordinated and consistent with Report goals and recommendations.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) support the development of national voluntary consensus standards for interoperable emergency communications; and (2) prohibit a governmental jurisdiction from using DHS assistance for new equipment or systems that do not meet such standards.

Establishes the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center to serve as the focal point for interagency efforts to address operable and interoperable communications.

Directs the Secretary to provide technical guidance, training, and other assistance to support the rapid establishment of effective interoperable emergency communications capabilities in emergencies in areas determined to be at consistently high risk from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Requires that such capabilities ensure the ability of all levels of government, emergency response and support providers, the private sector, and other organizations with emergency response capabilities to: (1) communicate with each other; (2) have timely access to the Information Sharing Environment described in the National Security Intelligence Reform Act of 2004; and (3) be consistent with any applicable state or urban area homeland strategy or plan.

(Sec. 3) Requires the Director of the Office of Interoperability and Compatibility to: (1) assist the Secretary in developing and implementing the science and technology aspects of public safety interoperable communications programs of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act; (2) support the creation of national voluntary consensus standards for interoperable emergency communications; (3) establish a comprehensive research, development, testing, and evaluation program for improving interoperable emergency communications; (4) evaluate and assess new technology in real-world environments to achieve interoperable emergency communications capabilities; and (5) coordinate with the private sector to develop solutions to improve and achieve such capabilities.

(Sec. 4) Expresses the sense of Congress that in carrying out DHS responsibilities relating to the SAFECOM Program, the Assistant Secretary and the Director should work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to implement the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program.